December 20, 2013

House With a Nice View: Bad Girl Teaches Something to Good Girl and Vice Versa

Graphic sex tends to disqualify movies from serious discussion. Show too much breast or butt early on and a flick is likely to be labeled as porn, regardless of whether it continues to show skin or not. And while I'd hardly say A House With a Nice View is filmmaking of the finest caliber, Lee Soo-seong's indie movie is definitely not just faking a story when all it wants to do is show naked people going at it. Sure, his two lead actresses -- Ha Na-kyeong and Kwak Hyeon-hwa -- are more bodies than brains, but his dialogue, with its periodic references to Neitzsche, is definitely flirting with deeper topics than anal penetration. Despite a couple of raw encounters (one which blurs out the male genitalia), House With a Nice view doesn't become more salacious over time but instead retreats from nudity and naughtiness to more sobering realities: Ha's real estate agent gets raped by a prospective buyer while Kwak's timid apartment dweller realizes that stripping for a nearby Peeping Tom has made her a source of ridicule for her neighbors.

Lee's not that hot about exploring these darker areas though. He's for happy endings of every variety. The square architect (Oh Seung-tae) will prove a faithful lover to his slutty paramour; the hunky neighbor (Lee Geon) will return just in time to meet the budding needs of a nerdy pen pal. As such, House With a Nice View is definitely overly simplistic and a bit of a letdown. Quoting from Thus Spoke Zarathustra may sound thoughts but it doesn't give a movie weight. Yet to say Lee's flick is nothing but talky trash is to ignore that, corny-porny parts aside, this film is a heck of a lot better than a trite horse racing pic like Lump of Sugar or a mean-spirited gore-fest like The Butcher. Why look down at a movie that strips its leads physically, and then tries to psychically, even if the attempt fails? Why not enjoy the ways of the flesh? To paraphrase Neitzsche: "To dismiss soft-core movies is to suffer, to interpret soft-core movies is to find some meaning in the suffering."

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